Bulls Rally Falls Short Against Ohio
BUFFALO, NY – Like they have throughout a season of injuries and narrow losses, the University at Buffalo football team fought back valiantly throughout its nationally-televised game against Ohio University, coming back from a 14-point first-half deficit. In the end, however, the Bulls lost their third straight game decided on the final drive in a heartbreaking 27-24 loss to the Bobcats before 13,032 fans on Senior Night.
Senior wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt saved one of the finest games of his brilliant career for his final home game, catching eight passes for a career-best 165 yards and three touchdowns. Roosevelt led his team back from a 21-7 deficit in the first half with a collection of highlight reel catches.
"I'm proud of our football team," said head coach Turner Gill. "They played hard and played with great effort. They played with some energy tonight and played with confidence. We just need to learn how to finish. We have to make the plays when they are there to make. That is a sign of a team that knows how to finish football games. For some reason this year, we are unable to finish those games."
The game came down to the final two minutes for the third straight week as the Bobcats broke a 24-24 tie by driving 53 yards in 12 plays after taking possession with 6:58 remaining in regulation. The Bulls stopped the drive thanks to a batted down pass on third-and-12 from the UB 30 by senior defensive tackle Dane Robinson.
However, Matt Weller calmly drilled a 47-yard field goal – into a breeze, to give Ohio a 27-24 lead with 1:25 left. The never-say-die Bulls, however, had lots of fight left in them.
After a 25-yard kickoff return by Terrell Jackson – who had a career-best four catches for 60 yards – the Bulls started at their own 35-yard line. On a fourth-and-four play, sophomore quarterback Zach Maynard hit Roosevelt for six yards – with the senior taking a jarring hit at midfield. Maynard then connected with senior flanker Brett Hamlin, who finished with 75 yards on five receptions, for a 20-yard strike down the middle. However, on third-and-10 at the OU 33, Maynard's pass went through a UB receiver's hands and was picked off by Shannon Ballard to seal the game.
After trailing 21-14 at halftime, UB's defense kept the Bulls in the game in the second half, allowing just two long (46- and 47-yard) field goals. The defense was led by the play of reserve linebacker Josh Copeland – another example of the Bulls' backups stepping up. Playing for leading tackler Justin Winters, Copeland had nine tackles, two for loss, and a quarterback hurry. Safety Davonte Shannon and linebackerScott Pettigrew added eight tackles apiece, while senior safety Mike Newton had eight tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
The Bulls trailed 24-14, when Maynard hooked up with Jackson for a 32-yard catch and run, before senior tailbackMario Henry ripped off an 18-yard run to the 22 yard line. On the next play, Maynard hit Roosevelt on a fade route down the right sideline to pull the Bulls within 24-21.
The Bulls trailed by that same margin when the UB defense made a huge play. After Ohio had driven to the Bulls' 30-yard line, sophomore defensive tackle Richie Smith tipped a Theo Scott pass in the air, intercepted it and ran 26 yards to set the Bulls up in scoring range.
After a nine-yard connection from Maynard to senior tight end Jesse Rack on a third-down play, Henry ripped off a 16-yard run to set the Bulls up at the OU 13. However, a potential touchdown pass was broken up in the end zone and UB was able to tie the score when kicker A.J. Principe banged in a 26-yard field goal with 7:04 remaining.
However, the Bobcats would make enough plays down the stretch to hold on for the win.
The game was scoreless until the two teams exploded for three touchdowns in a span of 1:25 late in the first quarter. The Bobcats opened the scoring when backup quarterback Tyler Tettleton rushed in from nine yards out to open the scoring with 3:10 left in the first quarter. That capped a 69-yard drive in seven plays.
After the kickoff, it took Buffalo just one play to even the score. Redshirt freshman quarterback Jerry Davis hit Roosevelt in perfect stride for a 76-yard touchdown strike, a play that also made Roosevelt the Bulls' all-time leader in receiving yards. After the PAT, UB had tied the game at 7-7 with 2:57 left.
It then took just two plays for Ohio to regain the lead. Scott hit Taylor Price for 48 yards and on the next play tailback Vince Davidson scored from 10 yards out. After the PAT, the Bobcats led 14-7 with 2:10 to go in the quarter.
Trailing 21-7 late in the first half, the Bulls had one of their best two-minute drives of the season. With Maynard going 7-for-10 on the drive for 84 yards and adding a clutch 13-yard carry. The Bulls' finished the drive on a gorgeous 21-yard pass from Maynard to Roosevelt in the left corner of the end zone with just three seconds left in the half. The drive traveled 93 yards in 14 plays in 1:56.
The Bulls will play at Miami next Wednesday at 6 p.m.
BULL-etins: This was the 16th meeting between the teams with Ohio now leading 10-6...the Bulls had won the previous two meetings between the teams...tonight marked the first time in UB's Division I-A history (1999-present) that the Bulls started a freshman at quarterback and tailback...Naaman Roosevelt set the school record with 3,551 career yards, surpassing Drew Haddad's record of 3,409...Roosevelt's 76-yard catch in the first quarter is the longest of his career...Roosevelt's three touchdowns in today's game tied the career high he set against Ball State in the 2008 MAC Championship game…after tonight's game, Roosevelt now has 268 career receptions and 28 career receiving touchdowns...quarterback Jerry Davis threw the first touchdown pass of his career in the first quarter...Zach Maynard has thrown a touchdown pass in all ten games this season, and his 17 TD passes this season are the fourth-most in a single season...Mike Newton's sack in the second quarter was the first solo sack of his career...Richie Smith had his first career interception in the fourth quarter.